ANCIENT MAUI - THE MODEL KINGDOM
Maui no ka 'oi! No question, Maui is the best and has been so for centuries. This age-old boast finds its roots in ancient Hawai'i, for, although Maui was not the largest, the most productive or populated, the other islands acknowledged Maui's superiority. The reasons lie not only in its unsurpassed beauty, but also in chiefly wisdom and courage, wide political domain, and a fluke of geography.
Most beauty queens require time to primp and preen, and Maui was no exception, The island's diverse splendor required a million years of preparation. Sisters, but not twins, the West Maui and Haleakala volcanoes arose from the sea, then joined, first with each other and then with Moloka'i, Lana'i and Kaho'olawe, to form what is termed Maui Nui, or Great Maui. The rising sea level eventually separated these land masses, leaving the islands in their current configuration. Ever so slowly and relentlessly, rainfall, wind, and waves carved a varied landscape, while volcanism supplied its rapid wrath to a swifter shaping. Pele, the volcano goddess, last added to the island in 1790, when Haleakala exuded a fiery mass down its southern slope.
How was Maui populated? Archaeology tells us that the initial settlers arrived on successive voyages from the South Pacific, Polynesians possibly fleeing after defeat in war around 750 A.D. Once these early explorers discovered stands of endemic koa trees suitable for voyaging canoes, small groups braved a long and treacherous return to gather necessities and more settlers, for these colonizers had not found agricultural richness on Maui. Instead, they had encountered jungled valleys thick with hau, and needed to import what we now consider Hawaiian staples - taro, breadfruit, sweet potato, banana, coconut, pigs, dogs, chickens, ti, and wauke for making cloth.